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Study Hall: Missouri vs Arkansas-Ft. Smith

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As Arkansas-Ft. Smith came back to tie the game at 25-25 nearing the end of the first half, I found myself a bit relieved.  The press has just been too positive, and if the team was starting to read their "The pieces have all fallen in place" clippings, then Mike Anderson might start struggling to get their attention.  They needed to be punched in the mouth, and preferably by a team that probably couldn't hang with Mizzou for a full 40 minutes (so that they could recover and win with ease).  Mission accomplished.  In the end, Mizzou's final exhibition game saw Mizzou giving up too many open 3's and too many offensive rebounds, committing too many turnovers, playing poor team defense (the second stringers, anyway) and falling out of rhythm a few times ... and winning by 41.

Mizzou 115, UA-Ft. Smith 74

Pace (No. of Possessions)
Points Per Minute
2.88 1.85
Points Per Possession (PPP)
1.27 0.82
Points Per Shot (PPS)
1.74 1.01
2-PT FG% 61.4% 40.4%
3-PT FG% 45.5% 38.5%
FT% 73.8% 66.7%
True Shooting % 68.1% 48.1%
Mizzou UAFS
Assists 20 17
Steals 17 4
Turnovers 17 27
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.18 0.78
Mizzou UAFS
Expected Offensive Rebounds 12 16
Offensive Rebounds 9 14
Difference -3 -2

First, The Bad

When you read this list, remember that these really aren't complaints -- again, I was almost looking for holes to poke in this team, as no team is perfect, especially in mid-November.  But here are the things that Mizzou did wrong on Friday night (i.e. Mike Anderson's teaching moments):

  • UAFS shot 39% from 3-point range. That shouldn't happen.
  • UAFS therefore almost shot 50% in True Shooting %.  That shouldn't happen.
  • Mizzou committed 17 turnovers (and unlike last game, only two were on Ricardo Ratliffe).  Seven Tigers had at least two turnovers each (the only Tiger who played at least 15 minutes without a turnover was Matt Pressey).  That shouldn't happen.
  • Mizzou did not grab enough offensive rebounds and almost allowed UAFS to grab the expected number of offensive rebounds.  That shouldn't happen.

There really was a bit of relief associated with this game, and the fact that Mizzou still won by 40+ against a very game and reasonably athletic (for a D2 school) squad was nice.  The things Missouri did well, they did really well -- forcing turnovers (especially via steal), nailing open jumpers, nailing semi-open jumpers.  This was a fine game and a solid final warm-up for the 2010-11 campaign.  Mizzou was challenged for a little while, and when UAFS surged to tie the game at 25-25, Mizzou simply responded by outscoring the Lions 90-49 the rest of the way.

Mizzou Player Stats

AdjGS* GmSc/Min Line
Laurence Bowers 31.0 1.29 24 Min, 26 Pts (10-14 FG, 5-5 FT), 14 Reb (6 Off), 5 Ast, 2 TO
Mike Dixon 22.1 0.96 23 Min, 19 Pts (7-9 FG, 4-5 3PT), 4 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl, 2 TO
Phil Pressey 21.1 1.00 21 Min, 19 Pts (5-8 FG, 3-5 3PT, 6-6 FT), 3 Ast, 5 Stl, 2 TO
Matt Pressey 11.1 0.59 19 Min, 15 Pts (2-8 FG, 11-13 FT)
Marcus Denmon 8.5 0.34 25 Min, 10 Pts (3-7 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT), 3 Stl, 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 TO
Justin Safford 8.1 0.48 17 Min, 10 Pts, 3-4 FG, 4-9 FT), 5 Reb, 2 Stl, 3 TO
Steve Moore 7.5 0.50 15 Min, 4 Pts (2-2 FG), 3 Blk, 3 Reb
Ricardo Ratliffe 3.3 0.21 16 Min, 7 Pts (3-7 FG, 1-3 FT), 5 Reb (2 Off), 2 TO
John Underwood 1.7 0.57 3 Min, 3 Reb, 1 Blk
Kadeem Green 0.7 0.37 2 Min, 1 Nice Assist
Ricky Kreklow 0.2 0.02 13 Min, 2 Pts (1-2 FG)
Jarrett Sutton 0.0 0.00 2 Great Walk-On Minutes
Kim English -1.1 -0.05 20 Min, 3 Pts (1-5 FG, 0-3 3PT), 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 TO, 3 PF

* AdjGS = a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds.  It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game.  The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

  • In two exhibition games, Laurence Bowers has scored 49 points and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in 42 minutes.  Wow.  WOW.  He has six assists to three turnovers and is 18-for-19 from the free throw line.  These numbers don't actually count now -- they are wiped from the ledger when the real season starts -- but wow, has he been quietly amazing (I loved the "Dinner Party Starter" reference in the Friday live thread) the last two Friday nights.
  • I assume once the minutes normalize a bit, it will be very difficult for the Pressey brothers to combine for 34 points too often, but it was pretty neat to see, even if Phil was hogging the ball a little on the final possessions.
  • Nice to see Kim English has continued last year's trend of not giving a damn about exhibition games.  As we'll see from the usage stats below, he did not particularly involve himself in the offense much on Friday night, and we have to figure that will change once the games count.
  • Ricardo Ratliffe just does not look comfortable in his own body yet.  He's not sure what he can and can't get away with, and he's not used to the level of ball movement and team defense required of him.  But he's clearly trying really hard, and in each exhibition game he showed a few glimpses of the 13 & 10 guy he could become once he gets settled in his surroundings.
  • Marcus Denmon told The Missourian that he wanted to throw down a major dunk on Friday night, and he sure did try to do just that late in the first half. Unfortunately, he missed.  Otherwise, Marcus looked rusty-but-fine in his first 2010-11 action.
  • Ricky Kreklow appears to be settling into a "The Steve Moore of wings" role, taking shots only if they are wide open and just trying to do some dirty work.  After starring against Harris-Stowe, The Condor was almost invisible against UAFS.
  • The AdjGS scale wasn't created for Steve Moore, but once again it helped him greatly.  He is a natural when it comes to getting more AdjGS credit than actual points credit.  He had three lovely blocks and two rebounds in his 15 minutes ... and he only committed two fouls this time!!  Granted, that still gives him seven in 29 exhibition minutes, but ... improvement!
  • Justin Safford was ... very, very Safford-esque.  That's all I can think to say about him.
  • Mike Dixon is the quintessential rhythm shooter.  When the ball leaves his hands, it seems like it is going to come about 12 feet short of the basket.  So when he's off, he front-rims a ton of shots; but when he's on as he was Friday night, everything -- even 3-pointers -- sneak into the front of the cylinder.  He shot 13-for-19 in two exhibition games; I am curious how often he is in a good rhythm this season and how often the front-rims come a-flowing.
  • Kudos to Kadeem Green for a wonderful pass to Ricky Kreklow for a late lay-up.  I watched only him over the last couple of minutes, and I liked what I saw.  He probably won't get much playing time this year, but as a means of comparison, I think he's certainly ahead of where Tyler Stone was at this point last season.  So he's got that going for him.
Player Usage% Floor% Touches/
%Pass %Shoot %Fouled %T/O
Laurence Bowers 30% 62% 4.4 61% 29% 7% 4%
Mike Dixon 20% 62% 3.4 66% 25% 4% 6%
Phil Pressey 24% 53% 3.3 56% 25% 12% 6%
Matt Pressey 28% 40% 2.5 27% 36% 38% 0%
Marcus Denmon 17% 35% 2.0 51% 30% 6% 13%
Justin Safford 25% 39% 2.4 32% 21% 31% 16%
Steve Moore 5% 100% 1.1 75% 25% 0% 0%
Ricardo Ratliffe 25% 29% 1.5 0% 64% 18% 18%
John Underwood 0% N/A 0.0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Kadeem Green 0% N/A 6.4 100% 0% 0% 0%
Ricky Kreklow 6% 44% 0.3 0% 100% 0% 0%
Jarrett Sutton 0% N/A 0.0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Kim English 18% 21% 2.3 56% 24% 6% 14%

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via).  The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers.  The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.  As you would expect, someone like Kim English has a high Usage%, while Steve Moore has an extremely low one.

Floor%: Via Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?".  The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Touches/Possession: Using field goal attempts, free throw attempts, assists and turnovers, Touches attempt to estimate "the number of times a player touched the ball in an attacking position on the floor."  Take the estimated touches and divide it by the estimated number of possessions for which a player was on the court, and you get a rough idea of how many times a player touched the ball in a given possession.  For point guards, you'll see the number in the 3-4 range.  For shooting guards and wings, 2-3.  For Steve Moore, 1.30.  You get the idea.

Anyway, using the Touches figure, we can estimate the percentage of time a player "in an attacking position" passes, shoots, turns the ball over, or gets fouled.

  • As expected by anybody who watched the game, Phil Pressey fell well short of the 70% Pass mark he hit against Harris-Stowe.  For whatever reason, he had the shooting bug Friday, and in going 5-8 from the field, 3-5 from 3-point range and 6-6 from the line, it's hard to say that's too much of a bad thing. Also: he had ten assists, seven steals and three turnovers in 45 exhibition minutes the last two weeks.  That's a BCI of 5.7.  I'll, um, take that in the regular season if he wants to post those same numbers.
  • This was an almost disturbingly balanced game if you look at Usage%.  All eight primary offensive players ended up between 17% and 30%.  In the last game, everybody but Ratliffe and Bowers fell inside that range, and in this game, those two did as well.  It suggests extreme unselfishness, but in a real game, you probably need somebody to serve as the de facto No. 1 option.  I assume that will be Bowers and English, but we'll see.

    This is reflected in the %Pass and %Shoot numbers as well.  Only Matt Pressey and Ratliffe were over 35% Shoot, and only those two and Safford were below 35% Pass. This probably isn't a bad thing, eh?
  • Anytime Bowers and the two point guards are over 50% in Floor%, I'm pretty sure Mizzou will be winning the ball game.
  • The turnovers really were a bit high, but one time is an aberration.  Turnovers certainly weren't a problem against Harris-Stowe.


The real season begins against Western Illinois Thursday night; for those so inclined that makes for one helluva great evening -- go to MU-WIU, then head on down to the Blue Note for The Hold Steady.  (I will, of course, be home writing, but ... go for me! Save yourselves!)  Against UA-Fort Smith, Mizzou showed some potential red flags in terms of rebounding, 3PT% allowed, and turnovers committed, but now we hit reset on the numbers and wait to see what everybody does when the games start counting in the win-loss column.  It's time to start what could be a very intriguing season.